Trispectivism as perceived by Roland Barthes, in Mythologies

“How is a myth received? We must here once more come back to the duplicity of its signifier, which is at once meaning and form. I can produce three different types of reading by focusing on the one, or the other, or both at the same time.

 

  1. If I focus on an empty signifier, I let the concept fill the form of the myth without ambiguity, and I find myself before a simple system, where the signification becomes literal again: the Negro who salutes is an example of French imperiality, he is a symbol for it. This type of focusing is, for instance, that of the producer of myths, of the journalist who starts with a concept and seeks a form for it.
  2. If I focus on a full signifier, in which I clearly distinguish the meaning and the form, and consequently the distortion which the one imposes on the other, I undo the signification of the myth, and I receive the latter as an imposture: the saluting Negro becomes the alibi of French imperiality. This type of focusing is that of the mythologist: he deciphers the myth, he understands a distortion.
  3. Finally, if I focus on the mythical signifier as on an inextricable whole made of meaning and form, I receive an ambiguous signification: I respond to the constituting mechanism of myth, to its own dynamics, I become a reader of myths. The saluting Negro is no longer an example or a symbol, still less an alibi: he is the very presence of French imperiality.

The first two types of focusing are static, analytical; they destroy the myth, either by making its intention obvious, or by unmasking it: the former is cynical, the latter demystifying. The third type of focusing is dynamic, it consumes the myth according to the very ends built into its structure: the reader lives the myth as a story at once true and unreal.”

[Taken from Roland Barthes, Mythologies, Selected and translated from French by Annette Lavers, The Noonday Press – NY, Farrar, Straus & Giroux  p. 127.]

My TEDx Paradox!

TED Talks is one of the innovative inventions in last twenty manage to enter the top entrepreneurial mission one can define as success. It is the essence of what good Internet use is all about. Briefly said, it is sharing good and creative ideas while inspiring and promoting the feeling of joy for the progress of men and women. That being said, no great invention can, and should, exist without some criticism. I personally heard comments that had implied the conferences as elitists, others that say it´s a waste of time of serious men and women, scientists and person of culture, and some speakers even complained about censuring their talks. Taking into account this criticism, one cannot argue with the hundreds of thousands of view for every recently-uploaded Talk or with the smile and awe most people immediately get when discussing the last TED Talk.

1656319_10205408741838721_1313697782321493374_nSo, to celebrate the release of my TEDx Talk video I thought of scribing some words about this memorable and wonderful experience. As it seems, about three months ago I had the chance to participate in a TEDx event. I was one of eight speakers, all of us excited and nervous, no matter what was our background and experiences we lived.

The title of my talk is Trip to Awareness and New Trispective about Life. In it I shared experiences, as well as wonderful, exuberance, life filling events that made my life rich and interesting. Many adventures, of the kind that for years were left unspoken, were revealed on this TEDx stage, mentioning some travels I did and the subsequent thoughts I had. As it seems, after many travels and adventures in different countries experiencing and learning about cultures, languages and some of the similar preoccupations we share, I might have managed to reach few exciting conclusions. The Talk was an exciting event, and although I was asked for more journey anecdotes as well as experiences I acquired, I think I succeeded inserting some of the mindful conclusions I had and the unique and pragmatic theory about life (some of which can be found in my books).

I did not say it during the Talk but without any doubt, it is inspired from a book I published in 2012 called Trispectivism (from which part of the title and this very blog are derived). In it I elaborate the method of thought process that I used to arrive to that theory and, as mentioned, was pondering about the wonderful experiences I had in the many countries I have traveled and lived.

When I think about this TEDx experience, one particular thought comes to mind: The TEDx Paradox. It is the constant effort to balance between what one might see as egocentric blabber and a necessary explanation about oneself. How does one choose wisely what to say about the things he or she did, what is great, what is mediocre and what is common and might seem as over-reacting self consumed person? As an academic, I participate in conferences regularly for the last 5 years but this experience is quite different. Presenting your work in front of experts in the matter that will judge your academic or professional ability turned out to be quite different from presenting yourself in front of a large variety of curious people with different backgrounds that will judge you according to how you present yourself in public.

“Just look above the audience”, was the first of few good advices I received and gladly assimilated. Another one was to engage with the audience, this one I failed to follow. Yet my learning experience was more than those advices and seeing my limitations but also about fear, responsibility and doubts before, and while, the Talk.

But maybe the important conclusion for me is that the Talk initiated one of the most significant contemplation I did in recent years and that is the realization that in spite of my amazing experiences, I began to acknowledge how little I have actually done to make the world a better place. This introspective reasoning rearranged my priorities and now, at the age of 36 it´s time to try and give back no matter how little we might think any contribution one can make.

And to end this, nothing better than the words of TED founder in person:

And to end this, nothing better than the words of TED founder in person:

How empiric investigation can cause pain

Who would have imagined that studying 17th century philology can cause one to lose considerable amount of money? Apparently, the relationship between one and the other is all about the perspective you are looking from. Philology, to remind those of you who don´t use this word on a daily basis (such as everyone before beginning actually studying it), is the study of textual expression of practically any sort. While the most common application of it is in Literature, one can certainly be engaged in a philological research on mathematic treaties, on city planning and of course on Politics and Economy.

Quentin_Massys_moneylender and wife
Quentin Massys, Moneylender and wife

The difficulties begin when an investigator is too absorbed in her research, then, some changes in her life are unavoidable. My friend’s investigation entails different reflections on political theory and economics from both pragmatically and philosophical (the latter from mainly a moral-philosophy perspective). As an inspired investigator, she as well, wanted to experience some of the understanding (or lack) of the issues that occupied her days and began being more mobilize in different areas. Hence, she confided in her banker her curiosities et viola, her first investment in the stock market. Little did she know, this will exhaust her, causing sleepless nights and anxiously staring at the computer screen watching every minute and each movement of the undulation of the market’s points. She thought that after few texts she already understood the essence of a transaction, a visible exchange and the commercial movements, at least until she had entered the beast. Consumed by fluctuating human emotions in an unimaginable speed between the joy of winning, despair of uncertainty, depression of losing and the long, arduous seconds between one update and another.

crisisToday, on the threshold of a new recession, she sees her banker on a daily basis. She already got used to the smell of lack of morning shower, just as she tried earnestly not to be bothered by the amount of scalps accumulated on his shoulders. She told me once how she knows with all her senses and intuition that this person should be the last person anyone should listen to an advice from. However, an unknown, incredible force, prevented her from backing down. Is it the fear of judge oneself as a looser? Is it a gambling addiction? Or maybe simply the adrenaline mixed with the thought of being linked to the writers she is working on? Surely, there are many reasons, some coherent and understandable while others are mysterious and hollow.

Angelo_Bronzino_Alegoria del amor detalleThe living mind that is called The Stock Market has a life of its own. It is responding to the panic from one hand and euphoric emotions from the other. There is no way to predict where the next point will be. With Trispectivism it is quickly observed how the result of the stock market is, in fact, the sum of millions of individuals interacting at different levels while at the same time its idiosyncratic existence is as one magnanimous entity (a more elaborate post about Economy viewed by Trispectivism in the near future).

In his work, Confusión de Confusiones (1668), José Penso de la Vega concluded in a conversation between a philosopher, a merchant and a broker, how the stock market is an indissoluble knot that no sword can cut. There is nothing else to do but buy and sell in the dark, do little, be armed with patience, and if you lose, pay the difference and prolong the game, constantly following opinions, if a new detail doesn´t appear suddenly.

Cover, Confusión de confusiones
Cover, Confusión de confusiones

Patience, -she said in the end,- patience…! – while in her eyes the sound of the falling hard-earned silver coins hitting the floor with the pronunciation of her every syllable Pa tience.

The death of Esperanto, explained by Trispectivism

Esperanto used to be (and for brave few still is) the hope for a better, happier society. Born out of the notion that language can be the bridge of cultures, understanding and peace, this language, similar to her older sister, volapuk, was created in order that everyone will be able to communicate with everyone.

esperanto_black

So, why such a positive initiative experienced such a failure?

For that we will have to understand some facts:

– Esperanto was created in 1887 by Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, an ophthalmologist from Białystok, and was based on the initiative to create an international auxiliary language open to all.

– Language is a very complex topic that has branches in all aspects of life. Hence, in linguistics there are many sections and subsections with different specialties that investigate this highly diverse topic. To illustrate some it is enough to mention divisions such as: socio-linguistic, phraseology, phonetics, cultural linguistic, experimental linguistics, diachronic linguistic, translation and a long et cetera.

South-park-esperanto

In order for us to understand language we can use the example of a car, a cell, an ant, a star and pretty much everything that exist. For the sake of simplicity let’s pick a car. When someone drives a car there is a set of road conduct set by humans in a natural way, most of which were later explained and described in a more methodological approach as a set of traffic laws. Meaning, today we say a tree and the linguist can write an entire book about the word explaining how it came to life, why, when and what happened to it since. However, in order for that word to be understood by others, the interlocutor in question needs to have the same set of linguistic notions. Thus, the more culturally and physically in pair he will be to the speaker the more understanding they will have.

Trispectivism says that the individual All cannot exists without the universal All and has to constantly interact with it. Similarly, a word cannot exist by itself but needs to have constant interaction within and towards a language. A word will not be understood without a context (if I meet a friend and tell him “apple” and leave, he will look at me wondering if I´m ok).

Esperanto_melonoThrough the course of its existence, Esperanto experienced moments of great success. People from different countries understood each other while talking about simple material topics. The difficulties began when it needed to rise to the next step, meaning in more variety of conversations. When two people started to talk about abstract issues, the material epistemological understanding was no more, leaving each one to understand the abstract word according to their background. This is when the connection between the individual All and the universal All suffers a breaking point and leaves both parties in their respectful notion of mere definition. In most cases, this situation complicates even more when each one thinks she understood what the other person wanted to say according to her experience or personal notions while in reality it has nothing to do to the notion pronounced by the speaker.

When an Indian person says to a Danish one, let´s eat ‘spicy’, the latter might say yes, but if he does not know the Indian culture, he is in for a long night of pouring water on his burning tongue. And what about the word ‘marriage’ between an American and a Saudi, or even worse, when a Muslim says God, the Christian hears a Judeo-Christian God (which explains why they all say that they have the same God even though everything about what their God says differs completely). Hence, when Esperanto aspired to become international and began to cross borders, the understanding between one and his kin diminished alongside with the effectiveness of the intercommunication.

In short, emotions, as we witness in many occasions, are what bring sense to the language, but it is the person (or persons), that creates the story to contemplate upon.

Trispectivism, a word about Sex

Probably the most disturbing issue about sex is that sex is, in fact, an issue. So much has been said about this act that somehow we lost the act along the way, along with the mixture of modern, psychological, occidental, oriental, theological, natural, and many more interpretative ways. Sex has become a public discourse, a symbol that all eyes are immediately attracted to, a photo on a movie poster or a book cover that augments the sales and a hot topic to boost blog views (never).

kamasutra

So what is Sex? Well, on a more pragmatic perspective, one can say it is a manner of reproduction, of procreation, of the continuation of the species and the passage of evolutional universal consciousness and knowledge. On an emotional level, it is the strongest connection possible between two members of the same species, usually, but not necessarily, a male and a female. When a man penetrates a woman, the immediate and most sublime sensation is the unison of the two. Two who become one, united in this cosmic energy, stronger, with neither care nor sorrow, as the most intimate company to each other. This is perhaps why sex has become an immediate relief of people’s feeling of detachment and sadness, an instant cure for loneliness.

However, there is a moment in sex when the situation is altered, when each person is no longer in this wonderful unison, an inexplicable instance when something occurs that makes us disappear, dissipate into almost nonexistence. This moment, as you well know, is the culminating point, the explosion of the entire sexual act: it is the orgasm.

Once you reach unison with your partner you are physically fused to one, your mental self becomes one. This togetherness is as strong as the connection between the partners, or in other words, the bigger the love, respect, and communication between you and your lover, the greater the fusion will be. A passionate lovemaking means to be absorbed in your partner and expressing your passion through the coordinated movement of your body. Now, during the orgasm you mentally detach yourself from your partner, from yourself, and from your surroundings, a moment where you find another existence, a more ancient animalistic one. It is when the individual All fuses with the universal All. From an immediate few seconds up to several minutes, the orgasm is the peak of the act of lovemaking; it is the culminating point that is the reason for our desire.

kamasutra 40pos
The position of the day

There is no reason why anyone should have any kind of sexual difficulty, discomfort, or any kind of obstacle to enjoying intercourse with a partner. Thus, when you get into bed with someone, hopefully you  have chosen this person not because you are obliged to do so for there is no circumstance that can be used as an excuse to be in bed with someone you do not choose to be with, no matter what you have been told or, even worse, what you have been telling yourself. Even if it is a one-night stand, a momentary need for a passionate encounter, we always make sure we are aware of our choice and accept it as such. It is probably as important that after we choose the person, the moment, and the circumstances, we should be conscious to another occurrence, where we are getting into bed not with this person but with an alter ego, or the person we would have liked ourselves to be. What I mean is to be whole with our physical self. Sexual intercourse requires nudity, which is something that many have problems with. If my partner is a female, it is simple: if she chooses me, she wants me not because of the things I do not have but for the advantages I might possess (at least in her eyes). We are all aware to the fact that women are much more conscious about the person they choose to have intercourse with, so do not bother yourself with superficial maybes. She will accept me just the way I am as long as I try my best to be kind, considerate, and natural with her. If your partner is a guy…well, make sure you choose him. However, both men and women admit that sex out of love is much better sex. It is where the pre- and the post-intercourse actually matters and affects the emotion in that heavenly moment of climax. Aspects such as caring, trust, security, confidence, intimacy, and patience are only some of the emotions and feelings that by far will incite a far more sensational intercourse. This interaction of the climax as an individual All and the entire sexual act as a universal All is, in the end, what we can call great sex.

Trispectivism going free! ebook handout

After some thoughts about goals and my approach and ideals in life I have decided to give the book for free. In this new and exciting world of unlimited possibilities on the web and beyond, the non commercial, sharing and interchanging should be the motto for many of the things we do. A few years ago, during my travels, I came across a book in Savannah, GA. I adore books so I was curious. I looked around to see who it might belong to and saw no one. Gently, I lifted it and open the hard cover. To my complete surprise and awe in the first page was described, in nice handwriting, that the book is a free traveling book, meaning, you can take it, read it and be kind enough to put it somewhere for the next person to enjoy. I was so excited to be a part of that trust and share that this experience marked me for life. The book turn out to be excellent and a week later I left it on a park bench in Marin county, CA.

Even though the self publication did cost me some money and I am really far from being rich (academic in Humanities and material reward are far from being best friends), I realized that giving the book is much more rewarding. That being said, if you like the book and you and your friends can afford it, please feel free to contribute by making a purchase (paperback or kindle). The ebook presented here can be downloaded in the kindle version (you can download free kindle reader for pc) or in pdf.

Moreover, if you enjoyed reading the whole or parts of it and you think it might be helpful and interesting to others, please feel free to write something about it. You can also use any part of the book and the posts in this blog for what ever purpose you like. This book is a conversation, if you like, one that I cannot have with all who wants to read it, thus, it is up to you to continue it. Thus, if you wish to add whatever creation of your own, please feel free to do so, in a book of you own, in your blog and if you contact me, right here. Beyond doubt, it is interaction that connects the unreachable universal and the open and friendly individuals we are. Enjoy!!!

Trispectivism in kindle

Trispectivism in pdf 

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Take it away, it´s yours…

case

Traditionalism vs modernity, constant fight for harmony

I believe that there is a long-lasting conflict in our lives that started probably with the first conscious, perhaps civilized yet not necessarily, man. I´ll try to resume it in one question: What weight has the tradition on our life and how much of it should we sacrifice in order to be modern and have more control and awareness? First of all, I have to say that there is a problem with this kind of question, which is that the definition for what tradition is and how far it reflects on our life can vary from one person to another. Yet, let us try to present a rough common idea suggesting that tradition is the older frame of thought, actions and codes that the different generations follow from their past (referring mainly and commonly to the sense of family honor, valor, moral, the role of a woman, kind of nutrition, clothes, social behavior and such). Modernity on the other hand can be understood as any thought or action that does not follow the established set of implicit and sometimes explicit rules of conduct (Normally I would have like to give an example like western society set of laws but we know that we’re not quite there yet when it comes to equality of gender, race and freedom of choice).

Probably the most common thought of the hard-core traditionalist is that there is no need of thought. It might sound a little harsh but I guarantee that it is not my argument, but what I’ve repeatedly heard as an argument for many daily actions. That is to say, as a curious person, a large majority of the time that I ask a traditional person why he does what he does, the answer is “I don´t know” and after briefly insisting, the usual reply is “you think too much”. This, of course, can be very difficult for their younger and liberated environment that does not necessarily share this repetition of archaic set of codes (as romantic as we would like to think of them).

It seems to me that what will eventually bring us closer to happiness is change and not stubbornness in beliefs. Let´s take a difficult example. Imagine two poor people, one traditionalist and the other modern. The first will save his money to buy a nice holiday dinner/something to donate in his temple/to be able to afford his daughter’s wedding. All reasons are valid and honorable, that is certain. Now, think about the poor modernist, the kind that sees the world and possibilities beyond tradition and custom. He will save his money to be able to go from time to time on a cultural experience, almost one can say adventure. Yes, he might not have a big dinner party with all his family around him, taking out one bottle of expensive poor alcohol and trying to show off as much as he can the little he has all while complaining about the poor economy and bad business. However, he might simply eat with his family a symbolic holiday dinner and later, him and all his family will be able to go to a cheap vacation to different country/buy better equipment for their biannual mountain travel/afford a diving course for his second son. It probably wouldn´t even matter if it will be a poor adventurous holiday (actually the poor travel is always the more imaginative one). And I’ll even risk saying that every vacation of that sort will be much more memorable for her and her family. The possibilities are as great as the imagination and while the traditionalist rest at home to rejoice the holiday closer to how they did for centuries, the latter invent and create her own path. Needless to say, both families receive values and mores.

Another small example is something I experienced recently. A friend of mine confronted what he saw as unjust behavior of a superior (taking credit for his hard work), the superior’s argument was that this is how it was always done, telling my friend how he had to live even worst experience when he was in that situation. I was a little surprised at first because the experience was in the new technology field and both my friend and his superior were supposed to be kind just people. However, after remembering that this superior always was traditional in his views, my friend tried a different approach, he said that precisely for this reason, that it was always like that and even the superior himself doesn’t like this way of working, it is time to change it. This is perhaps what is most frightening, the change. While it seems that the traditionalist is about the security and comfort of how things were always done, the modernist tries to change (even if it doesn´t succeed for humans, modernist of traditionalist will always stay humans). It didn´t work.

La corrida de toros, Pamplona
La corrida de toros, Pamplona

Why do I think change is better? Aside of the obvious reasons of innovation, improvement etc. there is also opportunity, growth and equality. Somehow I´m having difficulties to imagine a traditionalist caveman stepping out to build a city under the open sky, or to sit on small piece of wood attached to round iron circles in front and back leaving your feet in the air and riding/driving/flying.

So what are some positive points for tradition?

–          Maintaining a structural society that provides security extracted from the known and familiar (very important for the children/sense of family value/keeping voters happy).

–          Bring to life warm memories that by imitation are coming back to life and make us feel happy.

What are the negative points traditionalists usually have?

–          They are strict, usually thinking that the way they grew up is the only one and every other way of doing things is a danger for the known structure.

–          Unable to adapt and learn. Crucial for the younger generation that is exposed to new ideas and function from the outside but cannot break free from the older traditions.

As for the negative and positive of modernity I will leave it up to you for the perspectives are endless (even sometime with false accusation as I write about in my book). No doubt, to unite and live in awareness and peace between the two is not an easy task, and certainly is not meant for everyone. I admire the people who are capable of doing it right and dichotomize important aspects in relation to that (as the imperative separation of religion from tradition). So far I only know very few families who can manage and I will be more than happy to hear about others and how they succeed in the continuous battle for harmonizing tradition with the modern life.

So why is it this hard to find a constructive middle ground? One strong argument is as a friend of mine recently debated about education or control. Trying to establish a form of new age educational system that question constantly repeated, what is education and what is control over those fresh absorbing minds of our youngsters. What for some is education for other is control and vice versa. The same goes for those two universal terms: tradition and modernity. When coming down to practical day to day individual life each one chooses her path and what is black and white in the grand scheme of things, very quickly becomes gray. This is where I tend to use Trispectivism, an exterior view on the constant interaction in my mind between my use of those big words as modern and tradition and my day to day actions.

Thus, if I need to resume all that view in a post, I tend to conclude that tradition is how things are and modernity is the approach for a change, improving (though not always successfully, I admit) the existing. It is the movement forward as opposed to stagnation in the known and familiar (“because that’s how we always did it”). Ever since I deconstruct that aspect in me, I began to rebuilt my perception in my own way, according to many different live’s perspectives I saw and learned around me. This sensation of power over who we are and how we think is, in my humble opinion, overwhelming.

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle as a paradigm to Trispectivism

Yesterday I shared a link of a TED talk I especially liked and found useful. The talk is about vision, perspective, marketing strategy, social psychology and ideology. It is about how to address your public whether you are a large enterprise, a small innovator or a politician with strong ideals. Now, I decided to go ahead and to write something a little more elaborated about it because I began to think it is yet another good example to a method created by what the essence of Trispectivism really is. Thus, if you have read Trispectivism, you will probably recognize how it takes place in his method, if not, click here and then pay close attention to the elements that consist his strategy, for they a perfect derivative of what Trispectivism is.

Sinek talks about why all the innovators, the achievers and the outstanding manage to be on top of their competitors in spite of the fact they are practically doing the same work. With examples such as the Apple, Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers he demonstrates what he calls the Golden Circle:

He says: “Why? How? What? This little idea explains why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t. Let me define the terms really quickly. Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP. But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result. By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? Well, as a result, the way we think, the way we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in. It’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations — regardless of their size, regardless of their industry — all think, act and communicate from the inside out.”

The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle

This wonderful idea which can be transformed in a successful marketing message and is a powerful way to demonstrate Trispectivism in this area:

The “Why” is, according to Sinek, the feeling, the essence, the ideology. It is the global vision, meaning, the universal All. The “What” is the details, the specific, or the individual All. Thus we are left with the third part or his Golden Circle, the “How”, which of course is the action, the movement, the connection, meaning, the interaction between the two.

Sinek’s inspiring idea is that instead of explaining what you offer to people, then how you make it and finish by why, you should reverse the reasoning and begin with the emotions, with the universal belief (i.e. create a better world, a cause, a purpose), then how you do it, the interaction and finish with the details, with the final product: the what (i.e. computers, iphones, equality, freedom, airplanes etc.).

Listening to Sinek’s method with the understanding of Trispectivism acquire a clearer, more comprehensive approach to his idea. I strongly believe that with Trispectivism we are not only left with an open door to similar innovative views but a more profound, lucid vision of day to day aspects, in this case, a meaningful marketing strategy.

Watch the conference:
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Are social critics really that vague and incompetent?

Forgive my flashy title but, exaggeration apart, there is a serious issue that for some years is known but not getting as much attention as it should. Do social critics generate culture or as a matter of fact they actually just talk nonsense? That is the question that reiterates Noam Chomsky over and over. “Posturing”, as the famous linguist and political activist repeatedly says in one of his interviews on this subject (see below). What is it with their endless chattering that no one understands? Are they complicating their discourse making it incomprehensible for anyone because they are actually hiding their lack of ingenuity? Chomsky claims that because they have no theory, they attire public attention by creating a sensation in the reader of admiration while all they have is a rhetorical discourse. In reality, their skills are in the art of language more than the ability to develop an important social theory like they pretend.

Slavoj Žižek
Slavoj Žižek

Chomsky mentioned Slavoj Žižek and Lacan but of course there are many others. Even the French critics say that if they must have at least 10% of incomprehensible rhetorical jargon in order to be taken seriously. That ‘necessity’ is for two main reasons: to let the reader think she understands while deducting a conclusion based on her own knowledge and practically has nothing to do with what the author wanted to say or not. The second reason is to impress by having the reader believe he still has a lot to learn before he could reach a sufficient level to understand such overwhelming reflections.

Another example is in a most interesting article the moral philosopher Martha Nussbaum writes about the work of Judith Butler. The Butler’s dilemma about gender as a social construction is well-known across the academic and some of the public spheres. In fact, not only Butler’s claims for gender as a social artifice but also her political views, national as well as international (lately in a fierce pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel campaign). For Nussbaum, Butler prefers to “remain on the high plane of metaphysical abstraction.”

”It is difficult to come to grips with Butler’s ideas, says Nussbaum, because it is difficult to figure out what they are,”. As far as her social critic for gender issues, Nussbaum relies that ”hungry women are not fed by this (Butler’s so called theory), battered women are not sheltered by it, raped women do not find justice in it, gays and lesbians do not achieve legal protections through it.”

It seems that there is a cloud of a dangerous quietism above our heads in many provocative and/or populist rhetorical discourses. Where many social critics enjoy spotlight for their eccentric character more than a solid substance, the problems of the world seems to only of a rhetoric importance. Slavery, for example, was not abolished by complicated phrases and incomprehensible mystifications in a circular rhetoric. Strong arguments were needed, logical and ecumenical discourses followed by treaties and antidiscrimination laws. When Bartolomé de las Casas advocated in favor of the notion that Native American Indians were, in fact, humans with souls (according to the religious perspective of that time some said they weren´t), he did so with strong arguments and subversive performance to undermine the conventional and prejudice vision of his contemporaries. Women rights were only began to become a matter of importance when brave people engaged reforms and surfaced in spite and not because of social discourses.

The prestige in the literary world for certain philosophers is somewhat curious. In fact, a closer look on that reveals an appreciation for the obscurity of the rhetoric more than the real work of the thinking mind. However, a good sociolect should be aspiring for clarity in between its followers, instead of having a dazzled audience with no real substance. Take a look for example in the following video where Lacan is trying to answer a short rather fuzzy manifesto of a young rebel (a real classic moment from 1972 during a lecture at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium).

So, all that is left for us, readers of social studies and fans of rhetorical argumentation, is to constantly search after the elusive theory. And certainly, never forget, it´s ok not to understand some perpetuated charlatan discourses, sometimes they are simply empty of any significant meaning. Chomsky says that if you cannot explain your idea to a twelve years old for him to completely comprehend, then forget about your theory and move on.

Chomsky on Zizek and Lacan:

So why not to start thinking for ourselves? We don´t have to follow blindly some incomprehensible diagram and mathematical equations to explain how we exist in an interaction with others or blurring a sound out to the air. We can learn the basics that all of them use and create our own world of definitions and complex theories and enjoy watching people faces while you share them (which is, by far, priceless).

Hermeticism, the Origin of Trispectivism

Tehuti_hermesWhen I lived in Guatemala and attended to a retreat center called “Las Pirámides del Ka” I was recommended a book about an interesting perspective of life. The book concerned an ancient philosophy known as Hermeticism, which was formed from writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. One of the many websites devoted to Hermeticism states that “The Hermetists believe and teach that The All, “in itself,” is and must ever be Unknowable. They regard all the theories, guesses and speculations of the theologians and metaphysicians regarding the inner nature of The All as but the childish efforts of mortal minds to grasp the secret of the Infinite.” This passage refers to the Kybalion philosophy on Gnostic. The Kybalion is one interpretation of the Hermetist All (you can find a link here, chapter IV). I do not agree, however, to the idea that the writing is too complicated to comprehend and that a mortal mind cannot grasp the divine reflection (a quite repetitive notion in all religions). The difficulty it projects is that if the passage itself is said by mortal mind, who can actually know what is really is to grasp which makes is no different than many French philosopher that like to poster and sound too complicated in order to be appreciated (a future post about the subject is under construction).

This citation certainly does not explain what this philosophy is, yet it relates to the driven passion of the unknown behind it. In Trispectivism, I do not refer to Hermeticism but more to my perception of what it can present to us in a more pragmatic point of view.

Today, after more than two millenniums, human interpretation regarding Hermeticism varies from a belief to an order or cult, and almost to a religion. You can read about it on the Internet and have your own interpretation, but what I wish to achieve by discussing it is to provide a background to what I refer to as Trispectivism. Actually, you do not have to understand Hermeticism and the theory of The All to comprehend the idea and application of Trispectivism; it is more than enough to know that it was an important milestone. Thus, by no means do I want to be considered a Kybalian, a Hermetist, or a member any kind of group, religion, or belief. As many new theories in life, trispectivism is a derivation, an interpretation in order to facilitate self-awareness by the means of an ancient, yet to be fully understood, philosophy.

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